In one of the few big moments in his subdued speech to the Democratic National Convention, Howard Dean said that Democrats will never again be "afraid" to stand up for what they believe. "We're not going to let those who disagree with us shout us down under a banner of false patriotism," Dean said Tuesday night.
But to hear Maxine Waters tell it, Democrats already are afraid. The always-outspoken African-American Congresswoman from California told us Tuesday evening that the Republicans have got the Democrats too scared to register their anger about the war in Iraq and the voting debacle in Florida.
"The right wing has been very successful into scaring Democrats into not being angry, into not being confrontational," Waters said a few minutes before Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean gave their passion-free speeches. "The Democrats have decided to talk about our issues, but let us not look like we're negative, that we're pessimistic, that somehow we're angry. People are afraid to be angry these days."
Waters watched as Al Gore discussed Florida in ways that bordered on the joking, and she wonders whether such a look-back-with-humor approach will really motivate voters. "I don't know," she says. "You talk to those who say voters don't want their elected officials to be so negative. All I know is that people should be themselves. If they feel angry, they should show it."
Waters has never been afraid to show it. While virtually every other Democrat in Boston seems satisfied to get in line behind Kerry's moderate approach to the war on Iraq, Waters said Tuesday that it's time for the candidate to do more. "I want him now to start moving closer to when he can find the words to say, 'We're coming home,'" Waters said. "I like the fact that he's challenging Bush, but I want to hear him say, 'This war is going to be over, I'm going to bring these young people home, and we have no business continuing to stay in Iraq.' That's what I want."